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Hawai‘i Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Advances

March 8, 2019, 8:16 AM HST · Updated March 8, 8:16 AM
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The state House of Representatives passed HB1383 HD2, which seeks to decriminalize the possession of three or less grams of cannabis and instead establishes a $200 fine. The bill now moves to the Senate for further review.

“This law keeps drug dealers behind bars where they belong, but also keeps regular people who just had a joint out of jail to avoid creating more hardened criminals which makes crime worse,” said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee who introduced the measure. “It removes the unnecessary permanent mark from their record so they can go back to school, get a better job, and take care of their family. If we want to actually reduce crime and reduce substance abuse, then our taxpayer dollars are more effectively spent on treatment rather than jailing people at a cost of $146 per person per day.”

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Under Hawaiʻi’s current law, possession of marijuana is considered promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree and is a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in prison and/or a fine of $1000 and any offense for which prison time is authorized is considered a crime.

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The new bill amends this so that possession of three grams or less of marijuana is an infraction with a fine of $200. Under the bill, possession of more than three grams is still considered promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree and is a petty misdemeanor.

HB1383 HD2 also provides for the dismissal of criminal charges and expungement of criminal records pertaining solely to the possession of three grams or less of cannabis.

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